Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Days of Summer

Summer expires in a drizzle. Tonight, returning from the gym, I noticed that the day had turned dark at 7.45 p.m. The weather has turned colder yesterday and today. It should get warm enough for a last dash to the beach next weekend, but it does feel like the gasp of a dying creature. I thought about what I had achieved over this summer, having spent most of it in the city, instead of travelling elsewhere.

My main disappointment is that I have not worked on "The Book of the Body" sequence at all. At the beginning of summer, I had the excuse of reading up for it: Guy's biography of Mary Stuart, and McLeod's essay on Sikhism. Then I read Bidart on narrative in poetry, and realized that I don't have a story for the sequence. The sequence needs a narrative to meld its parts into a body; otherwise, it remains a miscellany, despite its conceptual framework.

Dissatisfaction with myself can be highly productive some of the time, and merely depressing at other times. So I remind myself that, this summer, I have re-organized and re-worked my first full manuscript. Now, I am not only pleased with it: I am proud of it. Putting together a first book is a school for patience. I hope the Alice James judges think as much of it as I do.

I've also written a new poetic sequence, "Fire Island," working through my ideas about boundaries. In that sequence, I experimented with syllabics and with Bidart's prosody, and that is useful work. I cannot conduct poetic experiments (or write poetic exercises) in a coldly calculating way, and so I am glad that reading Moore and Bidart had given me impetus to try something new for me. I am proudest, I think, of the one good new poem I wrote this summer. In "Razminovenie, or Non-meeting," I think I've gone further, in some way, than before, some different level, some new mastery.

Time to turn the mind to school: reading Chaucer's General Prologue again, thinking what to do with Mrs. Dalloway, deciding on the approach to teaching Marianne Moore.

No comments: